Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: The Chaperone

Title The Chaperone
By Laura Moriarty
Genre Adult Historical Fiction
Format Audio
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Cora's children are grown and off on their own so when the chance to travel to New York City as a chaperone for the beautiful 16 year old Louise Brooks comes up, she jumps at the opportunity. She has her own secret reasons for going to New York and can use this opportunity to fulfill her goal. But where Cora is traditional and a bit uptight, Louise is wild and modern. The two struggle to understand each other and get along as they spend the hot summer together and learn about each other and themselves.

First Sentence
The First time Cora heard the name Louise Brooks, she was parked outside the Wichita Library in a Model T Ford, waiting for the rain to stop.

I can't remember when I first heard about this one but it must have caught my attention because I added it to my TBR list. When it came up on Overdrive I downloaded it as began to listen.

There's a reason this book is a New York Times best seller. It was rich with details and heart and I cared deeply for the characters. Cora was incredibly traditional. In the early 1920s when hemlines were raising she still wears a corset. Watching her interact with a young, modern and headstrong teenager was amusing. I loved how Cora grew as a person and was open minded enough to realize maybe her way wasn't the best. It was one of my favorite things about this book.

I really felt for Cora. She had a pretty awful life. It could have been worse but a lot of things that happened to her were just unfair and frustrating. I was rooting for her happiness through the whole book.

I love when historical fiction is done right. When you can love the characters enough to gladly follow them through lots of historical events with out a single yawn I think the author has done their job. Not that the '20s and '30s were boring but I can see how some people might think so.

I really liked this epic story and won't soon be forgetting it. I want to check out what else the author has written and get my hands on it.

Should you read it
I think this one has A LOT of things going on in it so there's something for everyone. I'd recommend it!




Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review: How To Train Your Dragon

Title How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon #1)
By Cressida Cowell
Genre Middle Grade Fantasy
Format Print
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
On the island of Berk boys go through a right of passage by capturing their own baby dragon and training it to compete in a contest. When Hiccup ends up capturing the most boring kind of dragon there is he's certain he won't win. Especially because is dragon doesn't even have teeth. How's a boy to become a man with such a sorry excuse for a dragon?

First Sentence
Long ago on the wild and windy isle of Berk, a smallish Viking with a longish name stood up to his ankles in snow.


I read this one for book club. It was an easy read. I think I read the whole thing in about an hour in one sitting.

Obviously everyone who's seen the movie thinks the movie was WAY better than the book. I love the movie too so I can see why people feel that way but I wanted to defend this little book.

First of all, it's not fair to compare the two. The movie is great but before it came along the book was being loved and admired for itself. If the movie never existed would the book be as "boring" as we think it was? I don't think so.

The book was cute. As soon as I stopped trying to compare it to the movie I quite enjoyed it. Yes, it was a bit young for me but I wasn't the target audience so I was fine with that.

I think it had a good message about finding your own way to become a hero and using your natural talents to do so.

Should you read it
I think it deserves a chance. I particularly think young kids should read it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: The Woman In The Window

Title The Woman In The Window
By A.J. Finn
Genre Adult suspense
Format ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Anna is an agoraphobic. Living alone in her New York City home she spends her time drinking too much wine, watching old movies and spying on her neighbors. When she witnesses a murder but no one believes her she starts to questions her own sanity.

First Sentence
Her husband's almost home.



I thought the premise of this one sounded a lot like the old movie, Rear Window, so I had to give it a read.

This is Finn's first book and I was blown away by his unique writing style. I can't believe I'm going to say this but I haven't actively noticed unique writing like this since Markus Zusak. I don't mean Finn writes like Zusak but they both have this unusual style that makes you pause and reread the sentence with goosebumps running up and down your arms.

The entire time I was reading this I was so immersed in the story and writing that I started feeling like the character. Foggy headed, delusional and a little crazy. I just wanted to go outside and feel the wind and breath! I couldn't stand that she never went out and never cracked a window. I could almost smell the staleness of her house.

A lot of the twist and turns in this one were fairly obvious to me but a few things caught me by surprise which is always good. While I didn't love the ending and found the "villain" cliche, I enjoyed the journey and can't WAIT for more books by this author.

Should you read it
You should. And tell me what you think of his writing style.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: White Tears

Title White Tears
By Hari Kunzru
Genre Adult Literary Fiction
Format Print
Rating ⭐️

Synopsis
The only thing Seth and Carter have in common is their love of music. Particularly old blues recordings. When Seth accidentally records a song at the park Carter edits and posts it on the internet claiming it's a song by a blues artist known as Charlie Shaw. The whole thing is made up but then they learn that maybe Charlie Shaw really existed and the past begins to haunt their lives in ways they never expected.

First Sentence
That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording.

Another Tournament of Books read. Oi! Some of these are hard to read but usually, if I stick with them, they pay off. Not so much with this one.

While it took a bit to get into it, I found myself easily making my way through this one. It was, for the most part, easy to read. About half way through it, however, it got really, really weird. It started to feel like some strange hallucinatory fever dream and I found myself wondering what the hell was going on! I stuck with it hoping my efforts would be rewarded but, alas, they were not.

At it's heart this is a book about racism and, quite frankly, I'm tired of all the talk about racism. If all we do is talk, talk, talk about it nothing gets better and we just keep feeding the machine. Books like this aren't helping. They too are just fueling the machine.

Personal feelings aside, this book just didn't work. It starts out telling a story and then gets so convoluted and far fetched with in your face agenda pushing that it just didn't work. I felt like I'd been taken in with the promise of a story and handed, instead, a pamphlet on why I should feel like crap for being born white. It's the old bait and switch. I should have just set it aside.

Should you read it
No. There are much more beautiful books out there that handle this subject with no agenda and a more hopeful message of love.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: Places No One Knows

Title Places No One Knows
By Brenna Yovanoff
Genre YA contemporary
Format Audio
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
Waverly puts on a facade of happiness at school and at home for her friends and family. She's the perfect "good girl" but all is not as perfect as it seems. Her unhappiness is eating into her nights giving her insomnia. Marshall is a nobody. He drinks and does drugs to dull the pain of his miserable home life. He's the typical "bad boy" When Waverly somehow dreams her way into Marshall's room and the two form a tenuous romance they'll have to decide if carrying it into the day time hours is possible or even worth it.

First Sentence
There's something awful about the sun.

I've really enjoyed Yovanoff's writing in the past so I've been working my way through her books. This one sounded intriguing.  What's not to love? You've got the "good girl" dreaming herself into the "bad boy's" bedroom at night. Sounds good, right?

I was expecting a much more light fluffy read then I got. Not that, that's a bad thing. This book dealt with some serious issues. I should have known it would. Yovanoff seems to get down to the nitty gritty of people and deal with the hard issues. It's one of the thing's I love about her writing.

As much as I found myself pleasantly surprised with this one and having an overall good experience listening to it, I found in unmemorable. I read it a few weeks ago and I'm already forgetting a lot of it. I do, however, remember that it felt important. Like teens should read this. I think they'll feel understood and relate to it.

Should you read it
I'll always recommend Yovanoff. I find myself liking her more and more with every one of her books I read.



Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: He Said/She Said

Title He Said/She Said
By Erin Kelly
Genre Adult Suspense
Format Audio
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
After viewing an eclipse with her boyfriend, Laura witnesses a rape. The case becomes a he said/she said case but with Laura's testimony the rapist can be put away. Years later, Laura and her now husband Kit are living in hiding. Trying to keep their whereabouts a secret from Beth the victim of the rape. What happened to make them go in hiding? What secrets are Kit and Laura keeping from each other that's causing a strain on their marriage? What will happen when the truth comes out?

First Sentence
London is the most light-polluted city in Britain, but even here, in the northern suburbs, you can still see the stars at four o'clock in the morning.

I'm going to start off saying I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did. The story takes us all over in time from the past to the present slowly puts the pieces of the puzzle together. I had no problem with the format. I liked getting bits and pieces of the story and watching it come together. What I disliked so much was the characters.

No one was really likable and the only character that was, was the character you were supposed to hate. That's not good, am I right?

I found some of the "secrets" not even good enough to be called secrets and saw absolutely no reason why they needed to be kept secret. It made for a completely unbelievable story.

When everything comes to light, however I was rooting for a certain ending and I got it. THAT is why this one gets three stars rather than the two I was going to bestow upon it. It was a very satisfying ending.

Should you read it
I'm not going to stop you but know that I didn't adore it or anything.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

TV Talk Sundays #3


This week sort of sucked for TV watching. Not the content but the amount. Not much to report on but I don't think you'll mind.


Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming
(On TV Now)


9-9-1
 9-1-1 took on Valentines day and introduced us to the craziest woman scorned ever! Seriously. This girl rivals Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. It was pretty funny...in a disturbing way. The event with Buck and Abby was weird. I'm not sure why they threw that in unless it was to introduce a future relationship with Abby and Nash???

The Good Doctor
I don't like this new girl. Is she sticking around? I hope not.

The Resident
What the hell is going on with Dr. Hunter's clinic? Color me intrigued.

Jane the Virgin
Last weeks episode was interesting. Can I just say how much Rogelio amuses me? I love him! Jane and Raphael. Meh. I don't know what I think. I guess we'll see. The latest episode was all sorts of drama as usual. I really loved what Jane said to Alba about her beliefs. Is it really what she believed or what she’d been told to believe? A very relevant question when it comes to religion, don’t you think?


Netflix
I didn't watch anything on Netflix but old re-runs of Frasier. I need to finish season two of The Crown and I wanted to check out Altered Carbon even though I'm hearing it's a disappointment.

Amazon
Nothing

Hulu
Nothing. I think I should note I use Hulu to watch all my "current" shows. I don't have cable anymore. I want to check out The Handmaid's Tale but still haven't. Sigh! 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Flicks: Winchester

Winchester 
Rating ★★

What It's About
Heir of the Winchester rifle company, Sarah Winchester believes she is cursed and haunted by the spirits of those killed by the rifles her company produces. To alleviate this curse she is driven to have her sprawling mansion under constant construction. Rooms are added and taken away daily. The construction on her house is constant. Not even stopping at night. Dr. Eric Price is sent to evaluate the heiress. A skeptic, Dr. Price has been offered compensation for concluding the heiress is insane so that she loses her share of the company. But as he stays in the ever growing and changing mansion, Dr. Price quickly becomes convinced that something is indeed haunting the mansion and that Sarah Winchester isn't insane at all.




I didn't have high expectations going into this one. I knew it was going to be an entertaining horror movie and that's exactly what it was. Filled with creepy make-you-jump moments, I found it very typical. Nothing special or new with the the it's-over-but-not-really-over ending included.  Drives me nuts.

The acting was alright. Again, nothing special. Helen Mirren once won an Oscar and I can't help but think about "how the mighty have fallen" but that makes me sound like a snob and I really don't care about what roles and actor or actress takes.

Despite my lack luster feelings, I think most of the other people in the theater liked it. The girl next to me was curled up in a ball whimpering and jumping at every "scary" moment. You know me, I'm always the exception to the rule but the critics weren't jumping to praise this one either so there is that.

I did like the tiny nod at the historical story that inspired this one. Sarah Winchester really did have a mansion she never stopped working on. It's still standing and called The Winchester Mystery House.

Basically it's pretty much what you'd expect. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't amazing either and as far as scary movies goes, I've seen much, much scarier.

Let's Talk
Do you think actors and actresses can take whatever role they want or do you think they should only take Oscar worthy roles? I actually find those actors and actresses that are always taking Oscar seeking roles annoying. Which is why it's weird that I got snobby during this movie.

Recommendation
Wait till it's on Redbox, Netflix or Amazon.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Not If You Were The Last Man On Earth



I considered entitling this post: We Are Never Getting Together or You'll Never Be MY Book Boyfriend. That should give you a good idea about what I'm going to discuss in this post.

There are certain male characters we fall madly in love with and dub our book boyfriends and then there are those we don't like...to put it mildly.

You guys are all so polite. I usually hear things like, "he wasn't my type" or "he did nothing for me". Sometimes I try really hard to be polite like that too but there's a certain type of male character/ love interest I, well, hate!

And I find that this, so called, love interest is usually a fan favorite which I just do NOT get. I wouldn't date a guy like this if he was the last man on earth. So, what's this type of man I find so utterly loathing? Are you just dying to know? Not Really? Alright, fine but I'll tell you anyway.

 A perfect example of the type of man I hate is Edward from the Twilight books. I use him as an example because most people have read Twilight not because poor Edward deserves anymore bashing.  But that definitely gives you an idea, am I right?

Lets look at some of the qualities in a male character that gets my eyes twitching and my anger boiling.


  • WAY too overprotective
  • Like WAY. They act like the woman they love is a helpless moron who's as delicate as a snowflake landing on a hotplate. 
  • Therefore, they are demeaning. It's insulting to watch these men defame the woman they supposedly love by insinuating she's so stupid she couldn't possibly make a rational, self preserving decision. 
  • In fact, they are so over protective they actually LOCK UP these women or have someone guard them to keep them out of danger. What the hell?! 

And this is just the tip of the ice berg. I've read far too many books where the so called hero does something like the above mentioned and it makes me so crazy! You want examples?

Adam from the Mercy Thompson books
Akiva from the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series
Arin from The Winner's Crime trilogy
Edward from the Twilight series (of course)

I'll stop there. So, why? Please tell me what the appeal is? I'm not a feminist in the traditional sense. I obviously get riled up when men act all superior and smarter than women but I also think feminists today need to be careful or we'll be living in a world of amazonian, hard, heartless women and sniveling pretty boys who can't even use a screwdriver but that's a different topic for a different day.

But I do want to know why these types of men are so rampant in books today. Particularly YA books. Am I missing something? Is this attractive? Do some women just love being told every little move to make and that she's a helpless infant who couldn't possibly make a calculated decision about her own life?

Shout out now to the awesome male characters that let women be women and know damn well that she's capable of taking care of herself and kicking ass.

Astley from the Need series
Lincoln from Attachments
Po from the Graceling Realm books
Dave the Laugh from the Georgia Nicolson books

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: Annihilation

Title Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)
By Jeff Vandermeer
Genre Adult Sci-fi
Format Ebook
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
A biologist, a psychologist, a surveyor and a anthropologist walk into Area X...sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, right? It's actually anything but funny. These people are part of the twelfth expedition into Area X. The other expeditions have either never returned or returned as shadows of their former selves and then died of cancer.

First Sentence
The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats.

If you didn't know, they are making a movie of this book/series and it comes out in February. The previews for the movie looked so mysterious that I decided to read the book(s). I guess this series is wildly popular? Or was when it came out? I didn't even know it existed before the movie preview. I am SO with it. ;) Anywho, I decided to at least read the first book.

I started reading it in the evening and could NOT put it down. I was so engrossed. I wanted to know what the hell was going on. Eventually sleep won out but I picked it back up in the morning and inhaled the rest of it.

Not only was I invested in the story and what was going on but I was drawn into the creepy, disturbing atmosphere so much that when my cat, who was sitting in my lap, sneezed I violently  jumped and then laughed at myself.

I can clearly see from the movie previews that the book is totally different and that once again Hollywood has put their usual antics on display again. Oh well, I'll probably see the movie too but I don't think it will have nearly the disturbing atmosphere the book had.

A lot of people thought this one offered no answers and while I can sort of see their side I don't agree. Sure, we still aren't sure what Area X is but I'm not sure that was the point and as for the rest of it...I thought there were answers.

 I want to read the others in the series now but am a bit sad we don't get to follow the biologist anymore. I know her story was over but it sure would be fun to accompany her further.

Should you read it
If you like sci-fi then I'd recommend it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

January Wrap-Up 2018


January is over and for some reason it felt like the longest month of my life! Maybe that explains why I managed to read so many (for me) books.


The first week of January my husband and I went to the Oregon coast, as I mentioned, and I didn't read a single book that week. So I'm impressed with my eight books. I chose this very unflattering picture of my husband because, well, I look better in it. I'm so nice!






Then, when we got back in town, my brother, who will be working on our backyard this spring, decided to get an early start because the weather has been so nice. Goodbye, dirt and weeds. You'll all be concrete soon!






So needless to say, it's been a wild January. Maybe that's why it felt so endless. Anywho, here's the books I read.


So Much Blue by Percival Everette, Annihilation by Jon VanderMeer, Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
(Review for He Said/She Said to come)

No really bad books this month so that's something but no five stars either. I'd say So Much Blue, The Way of the Superior Man and Annihilation were my favorites of the month.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: The Way of the Superior Man

Title The Way of the Superior Man
By David Deida
Genre Adult self help non fiction
Format Audio
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis
See second part of title. A Spiritual guide to mastering the challenge of women, work, and sexual desire.

First Sentence
It's Never going to be over, so stop waiting for the good stuff.







I know most of you could care less what I have to say about his book. I know it's not the typical type of book us book bloggers tend to read. But I liked it enough to decide I wanted to review it and also to let you know it's not what it looks like.

I bet this book doesn't consider itself a "self help" book. It calls itself a spiritual guide. Which probably turns a lot of people off. My husband would call it, hippy-dippy mumbo jumbo, if he looked at the title. And while it is a bit "hippy-dippy" I found it much more "self help" then it probably wants to be considered.

As you can see from the title, this book is written for men. I heard it was a very good insight into men so I decided to read it.

My conclusions are this: This is a self help book. It offered insights into women that made me cry because they were so spot on (for me). It also does have this beautiful spiritual guide side. It talks about the feminine and masculine in all of us. Yes. Men aren't just masculine and women aren't just feminine. We are both. I could see so clearly the feminine in myself for the first time in my life and to have it explained in the way he explained it made me cry. I guess the masculine in me isn't very in tune with the feminine because, damn, I'm hard on myself.

Anywho! This was a beautiful book and it opened my eyes and mind to new ideas and for that I loved it.

As a side note, I listened to this one and the one I listened to said it was The Teaching Lessons so there's a good chance I didn't hear the complete book??? I'm not sure. I'm tempted to buy the print book so I can see if it's the same as the audio I listened to.

Should you read it
 If you want an inside look at the feminine and masculine in both yourself and your significant other, I'd highly recommend it. It's very easy to read and understand.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

TV Talk Sundays #2


Another week has passed and hours in front of the TV with it. I'll admit I watch way too much TV. Especially when it's cold outside and snuggling up inside is so appealing.

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming
(On TV Now) 


The Good Doctor
Wasn't new this week! I cried a little. I love this show so much that when there's not a new episode on it's a dark, dark day.

The Resident 
Strong episode this week. It brought up the ugly truth of the health care system in this country and the greedy hospital CEOs. It made me mad! It was very rewarding to watch that little bimbo pushing everyone to make patients have more expensive tests get put in her place.

9-1-1
Way more character centered this week. There was hardly any "emergencies" to witness. No sure what I thought of that.

Jane The Virgin
Who's a complete slacker and hasn't watched this week's episode yet? Me! I'll get to it and catch you up next week.

Netflix



The Crown
I watched 2 more episodes of season two this week. I really loved the episode about Elizabeth's sister and her new love interest the photographer. Very fun episode! The other episode about The Duke of Windsor and what he did in WWII was shocking. I had no idea all that happened. Yuck!

Amazon Prime



The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
I INHALED the entire 1st season of this one this week! Have you head about it? It's done by the creators of Gilmore Girls. Just BE AWARE this is NOT Gilmore Girls. This isn't edited for content because it's on TV. There's swearing and some brief nudity. That aside, I hope you still give this delightful, Golden Globe winner comedy a shot. It was excellent. I loved the feel of it, the story line, the wonderful cast of characters. I LOVED it! LOVED it! Seriously. I'm so sad there's not another season waiting for me yet.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday Flicks: Hostiles

Hostiles
Rating ★★★★

What It's About
Captain Joseph Blocker has been tasked with escorting a Cheyenne chief and his family that have been held prisoner back to their home in Montana from New Mexico. Our man Captain Blocker is NOT happy about this task. He despises the native Americans because of the horrors he's seen inflicted on his own people by them. On their way they run into a young mother who's husband and three children were killed by Indians. Unable to abandon her, Captain Blocker takes her with his group. As they travel the treacherous road faced with hostility and prejudice on both sides, Captain Blocker begins looking at things in a different light.







My husband wanted to see this one and I don't mind westerns (or popcorn) so we headed out to see it. Another great pick by my husband. I ended up really loving this one.

This movie is not for the feint of heart. It starts out with this poor mother's family being massacred that sets the tone for Captain Blocker's (played by Christian Bale) loathing for the native American people. It's easy to understand his hatred after you've seen this women's two little girls get shot in front of her as they just saw their father being killed and scalped and are fleeing in terror. Then the mother's little baby she's holding takes a bullet and dies. Yeah, you start feeling a prickle of hate yourself for these "savages".

Of course as you get to know the Cheyenne chief and his family you're reminded people are just people and it's really hate that is the problem, not the color of a person's skin. And once you see the white people's hate and prejudice and what THEY are capable of it's easy to become furious with them and start taking the native American's side.

While, I'm sure the movie was maybe sort of pushing its little agenda it didn't feel like it to me. It did an excellent job of making you see both sides and FEEL both sides.

I cried like a baby at certain parts and was very moved by the change in Christian Bale's characters. The ending was heartbreaking and yet hopeful. I really loved it!

Let's Talk
This movie did an excellent job not taking sides and trying to guilt you into feeling like crap for any prejudices you might have but letting you see and feel both sides. I love when a movie or a book can do that. Often I find these movies too agenda pushing. What movies have you seen that are good and bad at this?

Recommendation 
As much as I loved this one I don't necessarily think it needs to be seen in theaters but I'd still recommend it. I think we might be seeing this one in next year's Oscars.